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Prepping for Earl - Updated Thursday @ 10:00 a.m.

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Port condition Zulu set for North Carolina

FORT MACON, N.C. — The Captain of the Port Sector North Carolina and Captain of the Port Cape Fear River have set port condition Zulu for all commercial waterways in North Carolina effective 6 a.m. in preparation for the anticipated heavy weather impact of Hurricane Earl.

This port condition is a change from the previous condition of Yankee.

Gale Force winds 34 knots or 39 mph are expected to reach Frying Pan Shoals Lighted Buoy 16, light list number 835, within 12 hours. A safety zone for all the inland waters, coastal inlets and territorial seas from Little River Inlet to the North Carolina - Virginia border has been established. The ports of Wilmington and Morehead City are closed to all inbound and outbound traffic. No vessel may enter, depart, or transit within this safety zone without the permission of the Captain of the Port.

1. All cargo and bunker handling operations must cease at this time.

2. A safety zone has been established prohibiting vessels movement and activities unless specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port. Permission for vessels to move within the port may be granted up to 12 hours before the arrival of hurricane force winds 64 knots or 74 mph at Frying Pan Shoals Lighted Buoy 16 for the port of Wilmington or Cape Lookout Shoals Lighted Buoy 2, light list number 680, for the port of Morehead.

3. All commercial vessels and barges who have received permission from the Captain of the Port to remain in port must be at their mooring site in accordance with their plan.

4. Vessels bound for these ports are advised to seek an alternate destination.

Mariners are also advised that drawbridges will remain closed when wind speeds are 34 knots or greater or once evacuations begin. Because of the uncertainty of weather movements and related bridge closures, mariners are urged to seek passage through drawbridges well in advance of the arrival of gale force winds.

Coast Guard Stations Oregon Inlet, Hatteras Inlet, Ocracoke, and Hobucken are secured from operations in anticipation of the hurricane. The Coast Guard once again urges boaters to stay off the water.

For guidance on specific issues or to obtain vessel applications to remain in port contact Sector North Carolina at 252-247-4570 or Marine Safety Unit Wilmington at 910-512-5830.

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Commissioner Goodwin Urges Consumers to Prepare for Hurricane Earl

The N.C. Department of Insurance offers tips for what to do before and after a storm hits.

RALEIGH— Weather forecasts indicate that Hurricane Earl is on a path that could impact North Carolina this week. Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin is reminding all North Carolinians to take precautions before the storm’s arrival.

“Hurricanes can affect homeowners in every part of our state,” said Commissioner Goodwin. “The steps you take before a storm hits can help protect your property and ease the process of making an insurance claim should you unfortunately suffer damage or loss.”

Before a storm hits, you should:

· Gather important paperwork, including insurance policies, medical records, prescriptions, etc. Bring copies with you if you evacuate your home.

· Inventory your belongings by making a list and taking pictures or videos. Store the list, pictures/videos, purchase receipts and your insurance policy in a safe-deposit box or other safe place away from your home. Find more tips to create your home inventory here: http://www.ncdoi.com/Consumer/Documents/HomeInventory.pdf.

· Take action to protect your property from a storm. Cover windows with storm shutters, siding or plywood. Move vehicles into garages when possible, or park near your home away from trees.

· Loose objects in your yard can become projectiles that can cause injuries to people or damage to homes. Move items like grills, patio furniture and potted plants into your house or garage. Tie down anything you cannot bring indoors.

· Know exactly what your insurance policy does and does not cover. Remember, no homeowners policy covers flooding. The only way to protect your property from flood losses is to purchase flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program; policies must be in place for 30 days before coverage takes effect. Contact your agent for more information. Further, some policies in North Carolina’s coastal areas may not cover wind-related damage.

Take the following measures after the storm hits:

· If you suffer property loss in your home or vehicle, contact your agent or insurance company as soon as possible to arrange a visit from an adjuster. The Department of Insurance will be in close contact with top insurance companies doing business in the state. We will have up-to-date consumer hotline numbers available for those who need to contact their companies.

· Before doing any repairs to your house, photograph and make a list of the damage.

· Protect your home from further damage by making temporary repairs only, until your insurance company can advise you further. Save any receipts for materials purchased for repairs.

· Do not have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs.

· If necessary, rent temporary shelter. If your home is uninhabitable due to physical damage (not lack of power or water), most homeowners policies pay additional living expenses while your property is being repaired. Before renting temporary shelter, check with your insurance company or agent to determine what expenses will be reimbursed.

· Most damage to your home or surrounding structures resulting from fallen trees is covered by your homeowners policy. Check with your agent or company before calling the tree removal service as removal costs may also be covered.

· Damage to your vehicles resulting from fallen trees or debris may be covered by your auto policy if you have comprehensive coverage. Check with your agent to determine whether your vehicle is covered.

The Department of Insurance’s Consumer Services Division is available to assist consumers with questions or complaints. Consumers can call the following numbers during business hours for help with insurance questions: 919-807-6750 (local or outside of N.C.) or toll free within North Carolina, 1-800-546-5664.

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STATE PREPARES FOR HURRICANE EARL

Evacuations Underway in Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands

RALEIGH (NEWS RELEASE) – The State Emergency Operations Center activated at 8 a.m. today in preparation for Hurricane Earl, which is expected to impact the Outer Banks of North Carolina Thursday and Friday as a Category 3 storm. Mandatory evacuation of Ocracoke and Hatteras islands is underway.

The N.C. Division of Emergency Management is working with local emergency managers to respond to the Hurricane Earl Watch issued by the National Hurricane Center. An emergency shelter is open in Pitt County at North Pitt High School in Bethel.

This is a crucial time for people living in storm-surge zones and in flood plains. Those ordered to evacuate must do so immediately. Evacuation routes will become congested, causing traffic to move slowly. Law enforcement officials will be assigned to evacuation zones to secure private property and the safety of evacuees.

People living in vulnerable areas, such as storm-surge zones, flood plains, mobile homes and camper or RV parks, should evacuate now. If Hurricane Earl worsens, additional people may be ordered to evacuate. Residents living in an area that does not seem safe should leave that area now, even if an evacuation has not yet been ordered. Your safety could be in jeopardy.

Residents who are told to evacuate must do so immediately. Hurricane Earl is expected to pass east of the Bahamas tonight and continue its path toward the North Carolina coast on Thursday. Choppy seas and dangerous rip currents already are being observed along the Outer Banks and are predicted to get worse as high winds and rain approach.

Those living in affected areas should gather supplies from local stores and notify family regarding potential evacuation plans now. It is possible that Hurricane Earl will speed up, leaving even less time for an evacuation.

Residents in the affected areas are advised to:

1. Collect supplies that are already in the home.

If you do not yet have an emergency kit ready, gather enough bottled water, non-perishable food, prescription medicines, extra clothing and essential items for babies, elderly or disabled people for three to seven days. Also include in your kit cash, important documents, flashlight, extra batteries and a battery-powered radio.

2. Ready the house for evacuation.

Unplug small appliances in case of a power surge. Close all windows. Some shelters allow domestic pets, so stay tuned to local media for a list of designated pet shelters. Remember to bring supplies and vaccination records for your pets. Or, make arrangements to board pets at a kennel or keep them with a friend. Lock up the house after emergency supplies, pets and family members are removed.

3. Evacuate to a point where your life is safe.

This may be a friend's home that is outside the storm-surge zone or at a public shelter. Hotels and motels may no longer be an option.

Ferry Services are running extra routes from Ocracoke for evacuations. All other ferry service is on normal operations.

Residents who live outside the storm-surge evacuation zone and who are planning to shelter in their homes should finish boarding up their windows and glass doors, and clear their property of outdoor furniture. Store indoors trash cans, toys and other property that could blow away. Move cars under into a garage or under a carport. This is also an opportunity to be a neighbor to people in need by offering safe shelter to those living in areas prone to storm-surge.

Areas will be secured as residents evacuate. Emergency management officials and local law enforcement will secure vulnerable areas as residents evacuate. No one will be allowed to reenter a secured area after evacuation until the threat has passed and local officials have determined that it is safe to reenter. Teams are poised to move into the impacted areas to assess the damage once the danger has subsided.

GOVERNOR TEMPORARILY SUSPENDS TRANSPORT RULES

RALEIGH (NEWS RELEASE)– Gov. Bev Perdue today issued Executive Order No. 61 in anticipation of Hurricane Earl’s arrival to temporarily suspend some motor vehicle regulations to ensure the transport of essentials and restoration of utility services as needed.

The order allows an exemption from 49 CFR Part 395 (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations) to permit “the uninterrupted supply of electricity, fuel oil, diesel oil, gasoline, kerosene, propane, liquid petroleum gas, food, water, and medical supplies to residential and commercial establishments is essential during the storm and after the storm and any interruption in the delivery of those commodities threatens the public welfare.”

The National Hurricane Center issued a Hurricane Warning at 11 a.m. for the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Evacuation orders are in effect for Ocracoke and Hatteras islands. High winds and storm surge are expected to cause overwash of Hwy. 12 and may affect other roadways in coastal areas.

The N.C. Division of Emergency Management is working with local emergency managers to respond to the potential effects of Hurricane Earl. Ferry Services is running extra routes from Ocracoke for evacuations. All other ferry service is on normal operations. An emergency shelter is open in Pitt County at North Pitt High School in Bethel.

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Wilmington, NC (NEWS RELEASE) - The Ports of Wilmington and Morehead City remain open to commercial traffic under U.S. Coast Guard Port Condition Whiskey. Vessels continue to arrive as scheduled at both port facilities.

Yesterday, the U.S. Coast Guard set Port Condition Whiskey for the Ports of Wilmington and Morehead City in preparation for the anticipated weather impact of Hurricane Earl. Maritime hurricane Condition Whiskey is a heightened condition of readiness to indicate 72 hours prior to arrival of gale force winds and anticipated landfall associated with a hurricane.

“The NC State Ports Authority is pro-actively making preparations for Ports business and assets under our extensive severe weather preparedness plan. Our Operations and Emergency Preparedness teams receive routine briefings and communications from the U.S. Coast Guard. We are closely monitoring conditions while continuing to operate Ports business as usual,” said Jeff Miles, Chief Operating Officer, NC State Ports Authority.

Status is routinely reported to Ports personnel, contractors, tenants and stevedores. All equipment including container cranes, generators, vehicles, and communications equipment is monitored for fuel, inventory and operability. Emergency supplies are inventoried and stocked.

In addition, any potential restrictions or requirements are reviewed with vessel agents and stevedores regarding vessels in berth or scheduled to arrive and/or sail.

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Statement to the UNCW campus:

UNCW is currently monitoring Hurricane Earl, which may impact the Cape Fear area over the next few days.

University students and employees are encouraged to solidify plans in case the storm approaches and action is necessary. Students are requested to notify their families of their plans. At this time, there is no change to the university schedule and no class cancellations have been ordered. For more information, visit: http://www.uncw.edu/ba/safety/emergency_management.html

The current tropical storm activity in the Atlantic is causing significant rip current danger on the coastline, which will continue throughout the week. Rip currents are channels of fast-moving water that can pull even seasoned swimmers away from shore and create dangerous conditions at local beaches. If you are caught in a rip current, swim in a direction following the shoreline until out of the current’s reach, then swim at an angle toward shore. For more information, visit: http://www.uncw.edu/ba/safety/RipCurrents.html.

For updates on Hurricane Earl, monitor the UNCW homepage, www.uncw.edu/alert, the UNCW Alert Emergency Information Hotline at 910.962.3991 or 888.657.5751 and local media. Status updates will be provided as conditions warrant.

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GOV. PERDUE URGES RESIDENTS/VISITORS TO BE STORM-READY AS STATE ENTERS PEAK OF HURRICANE SEASON

Declares September Emergency Preparedness Month

RALEIGH –With Hurricane Earl churning in the Carribean, Gov. Bev Perdue is reminding North Carolina residents and visitors that this is a good time to update their emergency supplies kits and plans.

“While it is still too early to tell exactly what impact Hurricane Earl will have on our state, we do know that we all bear a responsibility to ensure we are ready for any type of emergency,” said Gov. Perdue.

The Governor urges every citizen to have both emergency plans and a supplies kit ready to sustain their family for three to seven days. Emergency kits are easy to assemble, with many of the supplies coming from items already around the house. Supplies should be kept in an easy-to-carry, water-tight container, such as a large plastic trash can or sturdy cardboard box lined with plastic trash bags. Your kit should include:

¨ Essential medications

¨ First aid kit and first aid book

¨ Cash and checkbook

¨ Copies of important documents – insurance, birth certificates, social security cards, wills, tax and bank information, list of doctors and inventory of household goods

¨ Water - one gallon per person per day

¨ Water purification kit or bleach

¨ Non-perishable foods, such as canned meats, granola bars, instant soup and cereals, etc.

¨ Non-electric can opener

¨ Baby supplies: formula, bottles, pacifiers, soap, baby powder, clothing, blankets, baby wipes, disposable diapers, canned food and juices

¨ Seasonal changes of clothing, including sturdy shoes

¨ Blanket or sleeping bag per person

¨ Portable radio or television with extra batteries

¨ Flashlight and extra batteries

¨ Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts

¨ Extra house keys and car keys

¨ Pet supplies: food, water, leash, carrier, bedding and vaccination records

¨ Books, cards, toys, things to occupy you and your child’s time

¨ Large plastic trash bags for waste, tarps and rain ponchos

¨ Bar soap and liquid detergent

¨ Anti-bacterial hand wipes or gel

¨ Personal hygiene items such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush and deodorant, etc.

¨ Feminine hygiene supplies

¨ Toilet paper

According to the National Weather Service, Hurricane Earl is expected to remain a major hurricane for the next several days, passing very near to the North Carolina coast early Friday morning. Hurricane force winds may be possible along the Outer Banks and sounds while tropical storm force winds may be felt as far inland as Interstate 95.

North Carolina Emergency Management is monitoring Hurricane Earl and assessing staffing and equipment needs to help the counties respond to any impacts from the storm. While no resources have been prepositioned at this point, Perdue said the state is prepared to move those assets very quickly if needed.

“Hopefully this storm will move through the area quickly, so that folks planning to go to our beaches this weekend can still enjoy the long Labor Day weekend,” said Gov. Perdue. “But, above all, we want everyone to be safe.”

September is North Carolina’s peak month for hurricanes. Residents and vacationers should monitor those weather forecasts and listen to NOAA Weather Radio and the local news for severe weather updates and follow any direction provided by local officials.

Gov. Bev Perdue has proclaimed September as Emergency Preparedness Month to encourage families, businesses and schools to take steps to prepare themselves for hurricanes and all other types of emergencies. In the last five years North Carolina has experienced more than 175 tornadoes, more than 5,000 severe thunderstorms, a dozen tropical systems or their remnants as well as several blizzards, ice storms and heat waves. The governor’s proclamation of Emergency Preparedness Month coincides with National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and held each September to encourage Americans to prepare for emergencies.

A new video entitled “Be Prepared, Be Safe” examines why it is so important for individuals and communities to be ready for any type of disaster. The video – and and other information about planning for disasters of any kind – is available at the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety Web site under the Division of Emergency Management at www.nccrimecontrol.org and www.readync.org. Emergency preparedness information is available in Spanish at www.listonc.org.

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Red Cross Responding to Hurricane Earl in Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands
Preparing for the Worst and Hoping for the Best in North Carolina

WILMINGTON NC, August 30, 2010 – The American Red Cross is keeping a close watch on Hurricane Earl as the storm gains strength in the Atlantic Ocean, impacting the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, with possible effects along the East Coast later this week.

Locally, Red Cross teams are watching the National Hurricane Center’s projected storm path, along with North Carolina specific forecasts, provided by the National Weather Service. With current projections bringing the storm very close to the North Carolina coast, the Cape Fear Chapter will be communicating with partners including Emergency Management in all of the counties that we serve, to ensure final preparations are made for any necessary response. All Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles in North Carolina are being placed on alert, as well as the NC Red Cross Disaster Management Team. Now is the time for residents to get ready for whatever may happen at http://www.arccapefear.org/Disaster.php

Earl is currently a Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds hitting 135 mph. This powerful storm has already caused damage, flooding and mudslides in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Earl is the second storm to move through the Atlantic in the last few days, coming on the heels of Hurricane Danielle, and followed closely by Tropical Storm Fiona now churning in the Caribbean.

“This year, hurricane season was predicted to be very busy and the Red Cross is prepared if those forecasts come true,” reported Joe Becker, senior vice president, American National Red Cross Disaster Services. “We are on the ground in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, supporting local Red Cross efforts there. Disaster relief supplies are ready in warehouses in both areas. We are also finalizing response preparations with local, state and federal government agencies along the East Coast should the storm head for the U.S. mainland.”

The Red Cross deployed a seven-member disaster relief team with experience on logistics, feeding, mass care and operations to the Virgin Islands on Saturday. Monday morning, Red Cross and government partners opened four shelter facilities: one on St. Thomas and St. Croix, and two on St. John. The shelters are staffed with Red Cross and government workers and have cots, blankets, and food in them. In addition, there is a Red Cross warehouse on St. Thomas stocked with additional disaster relief supplies that are ready to be dispatched where needed.

The chain of Atlantic storms has been causing powerful rip currents all along the East Coast. With the Labor Day holiday weekend only a few days away, the Red Cross advises anyone visiting eastern shore points to swim only on lifeguard-protected beaches, within the designated swimming areas.

If caught in a rip current, remember the following:
• Remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.
• Never fight against the current.
• Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim at an angle--away from the current--towards shore.
• If unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.
• If unable to reach shore, yell for help and draw attention to yourself.
• Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.

“The most important thing people can do is prepare now in case their area ends up in the path of this storm,” Becker said. “Don’t wait until the last minute. Safety is the top priority.”

Hurricane preparedness tips and ways to help people affected by the storm are at www.redcross.org.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

The Cape Fear Chapter of the American Red Cross serves Brunswick, Columbus, Duplin, New Hanover and Pender counties in southeastern North Carolina. www.arccapefear.org

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